Yoga Blog

Yoga & Meditation

Last year I set myself a 30 day Challenge of Handstands not because I loved them but because they were a challenge for me. They still are! but that is the point its not about doing something easy.

This year my challenge is to meditate everyday for 30 days. Doesn’t sound difficult and as a yoga teacher that has been practicing for a few years now it should be easy but it isn’t. Within a class or with a private client it is easier as my goal is to help others but as part of my own practice I am so easily distracted ans so undisciplined it is ridiculous. So this challenge is about practicing what I preach.

Meditation is good for you.

It is an ancient practice with historic recordings from many cultures across the world. In fact it is often mistaken that meditation is a by-product of yoga but yoga was the exercise that the original yogis used to make their bodies strong and resilient enough so they could meditate for hours without pain.

However only recently have scientists started looking at its benefits.

What are its benefits?

  • Meditation reduces stress
  • Meditation can help improve anxiety and depression
  • Meditation can improve your memory
  • Meditation can lower blood pressure
  • Meditation can help reduce pain
  • Meditation can improve your attention span
  • Meditation can slow aging
  • Meditation can help you concentrate

All of this has been proven in some way within scientific studies. Some aspects will be influenced by the lifestyle around the meditation and there are always outlying factors. There are some scientists that disagree and say that there is no proof or that the studies were not scientific enough. However to err on the side of positivity lets say it does work, look at this amazing potential to self-care and heal that could move society away from its reliance on pharmaceuticals. Meditation research has only just scratched the tip of the iceberg.

Whatever the research says though the work and the experience is down to the individual.

I love to research as part of my blogging because just having an opinion is not helpful. Facts are helpful and when I decided to write this blog I thought it would be easy. A little bit of research mixed with my own experience, a couple of hours writing and Ta-Dah! But when you get into it Meditation is not clear cut. Different religious connotations, different ways to practice, a lot of ‘he said, she said’ and more of ‘I’m right and your wrong’ attitudes. So I am going to avoid that all together and simply say two things.

  1. Meditation is not a religion. It is a part of many religious practices but you are not committing to anything religious by meditating.
  2. There are a lot of different ways to meditate and like anything in life its important to find what is right for you.

Already on day 6 and I have posted several different techniques to try and find what suits me best. As a general rule it is suggested that you meditate the same way everyday however that does not suit me. I meditate to how I feel on the day. So if you choose to meditate don’t feel you have to stick with one way. Try alternatives to see what fits.

Also dont be dismayed if its not an instant fit or if there are days where it is hard, it is hard.

We are now all programmed to be busy whether it is work or home there is very little down time in our modern lifestyles so switching off or even trying to switch of is a challenge. however that is where and why meditation is so good, when you meditate it is like a mini brain reboot or when an electrical appliance is not working and you switch it off at the wall, count to ten and switch it back on and Hey Presto! it works. Meditation is like switching yourself off at the wall!!

So whether its 10 breaths or 10 minutes give it a go.

Yoga & 2019

This has been an amazing year for allnewyogalife. If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing in life I would never of guessed at being a yoga teacher. But here I am!

A year of regular Hatha classes, already started a new training in Yin Yoga. Held a beautiful retreat and been on the most amazing photoshoot. Life is busy and fun.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity in my life to not only find yoga as a personal life practice but also to teach yoga to others. It is such a fulfilling experience. Whether its when someone says they have noticed a physical or emotional difference in themselves or just when you see all the relaxed faces coming out of Savasana. Yoga makes a difference.

For 2020 I will be making some changes. There will be no more Monday morning classes as I am hoping to move toward teaching more private clients. This is where I would like to focus my skills. Creating a safe comfortable one to one environment for those that do not want to attend a public class. Private teaching will be based in the comfort of the clients home or outdoors.

However with the completion of my Yin Training in 2020 I will be looking to have a regular Yin Class. If you have any interest or want more information on this please get in touch. It is important that there is enough interest to make this class work.

My Friday class will continue as is. It is my preference not to teach big classes. However at the moment there are a couple of spaces if you would like to come along and try in the New Year. Class starts back on 9.30 January 3rd 2020.As the days become longer and lighter it is my hope to have some impromptu outdoors classes. These will be posted on allnewyogalife FaceBook and Instagram. However I look forward to some planned outdoors events too so keep checking in with the events page.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year. Let 2020 be an extraordinary year that brings you everything you hope for and more.

Namaste

yoga and savasana

There is no denying Savasana is everyones favourite in yoga class! but is it a pose or is it just the lying down part at the end of every class?

Lets break it down!

Savasana, Sava meaning corpse and asana meaning pose. Its definitly a pose!

The pose of a corpse where you are literally giving into the weight and relaxation of your body as though you were dead. The pose itself is described as lying flat on your back, on your mat, feet as wide as your mat, arms by your sides, palms facing up, keep the head and neck central so the spine is straight, gently tuck the chin and relax.

Doesn’t sound difficult? All you have to do is allow the whole body to soften and let go. You can cover your eyes and wrap yourself in a blanket. Variations are available for example if you have lower back pain you can put a bolster under your knees or perhaps support the head or neck with a folded blanket.

So why do some of the more well known yoga teachers such as BKS Iyengar describe this as the most difficult pose?

It’s to do with your mind. In savansana you are meant to release mental chatter and focus on the present moment. You are not meant to fall asleep, you are not meant to think, you are meant to let go of daily life and its worries and stresses. As you would in death. This is the part that is the struggle. How many of us find it easy or even comfortable to switch off from home, family, work? We are so used to our minds and bodies being busy! That is why savasana is so hard but so good because at least we are trying to switch off and by giving ourselves permission to try it becomes easier.

Try is the important word here. As I said its not easy and sometimes it will work better than othertimes. Sometimes you will fall asleep and sometimes you will not switch off and that is ok. However if your getting frustrated there are techniques to help you. For instance you can focus on slowing the breath, listening for your heartbeat, try a slow body scan or my favourite, focus on a single point inside your head but as with any yoga pose it is with regular practice of savasana that makes the difference.

But why should you let go of everyday life in this way?

It is a deeply important part of your practice because when you shut down the body and mind after yoga it allows your physical and emotional self to process the poses and the energy used in your practice before returning back to daily life. Like a reset button savasana can give clarity and renewed energy and not just after yoga!

By teaching ourselves how to stay awake while completely resting our bodies we are calming the nervous system. When stressed the nervous system is responsible for anxiety, fatigue, depression and more. So not only can savasana can be a sweet and gentle lie down but it is also a helpful tool in soothing the stressed mind in our chaotic busy lives and an integral pose that should be part of any yoga practice or class.

The recommendation is that you have 5 minutes of savasana per 30 minutes of yoga. So per class you should have at least a full ten minutes in savasana. As a big believer of its processes I don’t think anything less will give you the deep relaxation required.

Savasana is the point that makes my classes so worthwhile to me. Simply knowing that someone/everyone is taking 10 full minutes of quiet for themselves and then at the end, once class comes back up into a comfortable seated position the results of yoga with savasana are real and obvious.

So next time you are at yoga class and its time for savasana, don’t leave before it happens, don’t rush it and even stay down a little longer because its good for you. Taking time for yourself, being patient and relaxing is important because you are important.

Yoga means union, the union of body, mind and spirit and in savasana you are bringing body, mind and spirit together in the most peaceful and calming way. So perhaps savasana is one of the most yogic yoga poses you can get!

Yoga Expectations

Last week a close friend said to me she would come to my classes once she felt less anxious about her size and phyisical ability.

It was a sad moment for me to hear my friends pain and worry. It would never of occured to me she felt this way. In my eyes my friend is a strong, beautiful, capable women, always fun and I thought confident. As her friend how did I not see this? This sadness also impacted me as a yoga teacher. To know my sole purpose in becoming a yoga teacher was failing and failing someone close to me.

I understand my friends fears it was years of home practice before venturing out to try a public yoga class and even then classes were intimidating. It took a lot of trial and error as not all yoga teachers/classes are created equally.

So my goal in becoming a teacher was to create a space where there was no need to feel anxious. Size, shape, phyisical ability none of these should impede a practice of yoga.

Yoga is for everyone.

Perhaps I am not saying this often enough or shouting it loud enough.

Modern conceptions of yoga are still pose based, achieving the extreme? Social Media, Instagram, FB etc all fuel this. Perfect pose, perfect body, perfect location?

This is not real life. It is a stage set, a play, drama with lights, camera, action.

The real yoga, the practice starts with you, on the mat anywhere that is comfortable and safe for you. Breathing in and out. Then using that breath to become aware of your physical self. Moving gently focusing only on what your body CAN do for you.

No expectations.

This could be for 5 minutes or 2 hours.

No expectations

Savasana is always the end goal no matter how long you or hard you practice. Time to soften down and let go.

No expectations

This is what I explained to my friend…in a little less ranting kind of way. Apologising that my focus on business had distracted me firstly from friendship and secondly from my purpose.

Re-evaluation is what comes next. Grateful to friendship for opening my eyes. Allnewyogalife is a business but my intention was not to run a business but to teach a practice of yoga, sharing kindness and holding space.

Balance between the two is crucial, if I am not acheiving my intention my busines is pointless.

So I journey back to my intention with an invitation.

Would you like to try yoga but feel intimidated, overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Contact me. No pressure to come to class, no pressure for private lessons. Just talk to me and lets take it from there ♡

yoga anniversary

Its been a year since I taught my first class and actually looking back am amazed that I ever came this far.

When I first started practicing yoga it was from a difficult place. Depressed and struggling with anxiety, I was physically unfit and unsure of where my life was going. With my body failing me in various ways; back & shoulder pain, pelvic floor problems and hormonal imbalance. Fitness classes were a no go. Socialising on any level went from awkward to intimidating. Thankfully yoga was an exercise that I could do from home in the comfort of my tiny living room.

It didn’t take long for me to find that yoga was more than an exercise and that yoga combined with meditation could make a day go from stressful to calm and it still does! I am still quite an anxious person but daily meditation and yoga give my mind the balance to cope better.

The biggest difference is definitely to my physicality. I am more lean and toned, teaching 5/6 classes a week will do that but its not how I look that impresses me about my yoga but how I move. I used to be stiff, pain does that and I was almost fearful of hurting myself. Yoga has made me strong and flexible, all my physical problems have improved to a point where they do not bother me. Although there are poses I can’t do and might never do I can accept that. Yoga has given me a deeper knowledge of my own body, heart and mind.

There are no photographs of me from before I started yoga. I hated seeing myself. and while I’m still not keen when it comes to yoga I realise that its ok . I have been challenged this week to share more about myself, stories and pictures so while I won’t blog everyday there will be regular instagram and facebook updates. Below is a photograph taken this year by photos by zoe this is me ….Karen the yoga teacher ♡

November Yoga Retreat

This November allnewyogalife is offering it’s second retreat at Cambo House.

This restful retreat will focus on slowing down and letting go. Working with mindfulness, meditation and yoga to find peace as the northern hemisphere prepares for Winter.

The natural world around us is winding down to recharge for Spring and we will too. Taking time for ourselves to breathe, journal and pamper as part of this retreat.

Our all inclusive 4 night stay in this beautiful Victorian Historic House is set in the beautiful countryside of Fife just south of St Andrews. With many traditional features still in place coming to Cambo is like a step back in time.

For our daily Hatha and Yin Yoga practice we will have use of the Ballroom with its magnificent fireplace and bold blue paintwork.

As guests we will be staying in the East/West wing with Double, Twin or Triple shared accommodation.

Food will be homecooked everyday and made from the best locally sourced produce. (If you have any dietary requirements please get in touch)

There will be some free time in the afternoons to explore the area

Bookings can be made here Retreat at Cambo or at bookyogaretreats.com

yin yoga training

Wow…that was a crazy Five days! Cant believe how slow it felt yet how quickly it passed. I am exhausted and my head is bursting with information. So I’m going to share some of that with you and hope it makes sense. Here is an explanation on the simplest level.

Yin Yoga is a Chinese Yoga based on Daoist Philosophy. Some of the poses bare similarities to the more traditional Indian Yoga but the theory behind it is completely different. Yin Yoga is the opposite of all other yogas.

You have heard of Yin & Yang? Opposites like cold/hot, slow/fast, down/up, moon/sun, female/male? The list in endless and most this in life are one or the other!

Most style of yoga such as Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram would be considered Yang as they are about stretching and strengthening muscle through strong repetitive movement. Engaging muscle and mind. Even the most relaxed class is usually based on a strong practice with every pose working the whole body.

Yin Yoga is the opposite. Yes we find a pose however within that pose there will be a target area that we are trying to stress, not dynamically. So in the pose we find that target area, stress the relevant muscle and then soften down around that. We are relaxed, almost meditative and we will stay in this pose for a length of time. Beginners could start at 2 to 3 minutes in each pose. As you become more accustomed to the feeling in your body you can lengthen the time in the pose 5 to 10 minutes. Apparently some people like to go for longer.

Now I know I have made this sound easy but its not. You are not moving at all, not itching your nose, not looking at the room around you, not speaking. The urge to move is hard because its so natural for us to be busy all the time. What is harder is settling the mind because when we are quiet and still this is when the mind goes into overtime because it too likes to be busy.

So its not easy physically or mentally and after five days you will feel it.

Outwith the phyisical practice of learning Yin we spent the last 5 days learning anatomy because in yin yoga we are looking to stress a particular muscle in each pose it is important to know our skeletal muscular anatomy and that was the basis of this first intensive training.

As I said above this is the simplest interpretation I can give because there is so much more to this beautiful gentle yoga. Over the next 6 months I have 3 further trainings in Yin focusing more on the Anatomy, Philosophy and Science. Despite the tiredness and brain overload I can’t wait!

Many thanks to all the other lovely humans on the Yin Yoga course with me for making it friendly and fun. And of course gratitude to our teacher Dhughal Meachem.

Namaste